Last Thursday morning's breakfast had two featured speakers: Ros Brewer, the CEO of Sam's Club, and Linda Cohn, ESPN sports journalist and the first female anchor of SportsCenter. Most of the people I know went to hear Ros speak, and no doubt, she is an impressive executive.
But HELLO - Linda Cohn!!!! I was super excited. Kirk Herbstreit and Linda Cohn in the span of six months. Where else would I get this opportunity outside of NWA??? (Yes, I know NYC would be one of those places, but roll with it, people.)
It was a big event - over 600 people were there, and I didn't expect to have the chance to get up close and personal the way I did with Kirk. But I did get to sit almost in the front row, and when they took questions at the end, you know I was ready. As much as I had enjoyed the conversation between Linda and Ros, this was my big chance to ask Linda a question just for her. And to tell her that I LOVE her. So that was pretty awesome.
Me: "First I'd like to thank both of you for your investment of time today. It's been great listening to both of you. And Linda, I wanted to let you know that you were terrific on Mike & Mike a couple of months ago - I can't wait for your podcast!"
My boss, nudging me: "Um, Amanda, question?"
Me: "Oh yeah, my question. Linda, can you share with us one moment in which you were most proud to be a woman in a male dominated business?"
Her answer was super cool. She was at a party during Super Bowl week 1998 and while standing near the bar, looked over and saw Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky having a conversation. Think about that for a second - two of the all time greats of any sport. Standing a few feet away, just chatting. And then - then, Michael looked at her, beckoned her over, and included her in the conversation just as he would've any male sportscaster. She said, that's when she knew she had made it.
So cool. As Linda herself says, this girl from Long Island who had overcome teenage self esteem issues and clawed her way to the top in the boys' club of sportscasting - she was the one that Jordan and The Great One asked to join them.
I don't face anywhere near the institutional discrimination that professional women 30 years ago did. In fact, I am blessed to work for a company that overtly seeks out women for management and leadership roles. But as any working woman will tell you, it is still a man's world, in both big and small ways.
So when I have the chance to celebrate the success of a professional woman, especially one in the world of sports, I'm all in. I'd like to think that Linda feels the same way - and she must've liked my question. Because she tweeted me back. #winning